293. Telegram From the Embassy in Paraguay to the Department of State1

5233. Subject: Conversation With Foreign Minister on Human Rights

1. Foreign Minister invited me to his office December 27 to discuss statements allegedly made by US representative to IDB, Ralph Dungan: the first related to the Jack Anderson column on child abuse in Paraguay2 and the need for the government to refute these statements before presenting any more requests for loans; the second had to do with Paraguay’s newfound prosperity which might make it ineligible for further soft loans.

2. I replied that if the government could refute Anderson’s column that it would certainly be well advised to do so but that I did not think there should exist any direct correlation between the charges of a journalist and the response of the USG to loan presentations. Secondly, I said Pargauay indeed might have a problem regarding eligibility for soft loans but that if we could improve the record on human rights we could then begin to treat this problem in the technical context where it belongs and where there were good chances of success. The Foreign Minister agreed and pointed out that Brazil, Argentina and Chile all continue to receive soft loans.

3. When the Minister brought up the question of a date for the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) visit and President Stroessner’s directive not to set a date for the visit until after the February 12 elections, I made the following points to Nogues.

4. The GOP was giving Washington the impression that it was playing with the dates of the visit in the hope of avoiding an IAHRC visit altogether. It was hard for any knowledgeable observer to believe that there was any doubt about the outcome of the February 12 elections and that it appeared to us that the crucial date was more likely in early June when the OAS General Assembly would meet to consider, inter alia, the human rights situations in various countries. Both Paraguay and the US know that the IAHRC wants to visit Paraguay in March in order that it can complete its report in time for the General Assembly. If Paraguay continues its dilatory tactics the Commission could publish [Page 840] its report without the benefit of an on-site visit. In this case Paraguay might feel it had a logical pretext to state that there was no longer a necessity for a visit. Superficial diplomatic maneuvering such as this was no way to treat a serious problem. The important point for the GOP to remember was that President Stroessner had made a commitment to President Carter and if Paraguay wriggled out of that commitment they would face a stone wall in trying to get further credits.

5. Nogues took close notes and while he looked disapproving at times, he did not attempt to refute my version of the Paraguayan scenario. I believe that putting Paraguay on notice will impress upon this government that we know perfectly well what they are up to and that it is a no-win game.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780001-0054. Confidential.
  2. Jack Anderson and Les Whitten, “Paraguayan Officials and Child Abuse,” Washington Post, December 20, 1977, p. B15.
  3. In telegram 310457 to Asuncion, December 30, the Department advised White: “we applaud strong stand you took with Nogues” and “you may find it useful in your subsequent discussions with Nogues to remind him that IAHRC will be meeting on January 26 and that setting of date for visit could minimize adverse statements or actions at that time.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780004-0451)